Archive for July, 2007

Emerging criticism

Emerging criticism

A few days ago I was on the verge of making a critical decision in my life so I called up a veteran blogger friend for some advice.  We ended up talking about the emerging church blogs.  My friend said they were boring.  It is true.  I think that for many of us the conversation has run its course.  Perhaps in some sections it continues to thrive but I can’t keep up my interest. 

Part of my disinterest stems from some of my experiences.  In one particular emerging church group a former member of a church I was involved with defamed other members of the church without using their names even though lots of people would have known who he was talking about.  A number of the people who knew they and their friends were being attacked confronted the person and the situation wasn’t adequately resolved at any level.  It was through these kinds of experiences I realized that a little bit of structural accountability is a good thing for all involved.

I’m convinced that a great many people are disillusioned with church because they themselves were in denial about their own issues and it was easier to blame the church than change. Some others just like to feel superior and want to be on the "cutting edge" and aren’t particularly concerned that the edge isn’t cutting much of anything. 

I look back at my deep investment in so many things emerging and realize that real positive change is a hard thing to come by.  It is hard for one person and even harder for a group of people or an institution.  It is really easy to deceive yourself in to thinking you are something when you are not.  I really think we are all in the same boat.  The movement that really impacts the church will the be the one that starts with brokenness and repentance.

I’ve seen the latest Pyromaniac Emergent-See Motivational Posters.  While the posters have elements of truth they just highlight the deep problems we have in church that is more content to war with itself than to serve God.  Looking at things in light of the parable of the talents do I really want to check in on judgement day and explain how I have no real talents to give back because I wasted them attacking the others.  God knows I’ve spent too many of my own talents on fruitless conflict.


The end of short term missions

There are two factors that are about to end short term Christian missions and radically change long term missions. The first is Peak Oil. World oil production has probably hit its maximum and will be unable to meet future demand for oil. The price of oil has tripled in the last few years will continue its steep incline making transportation very expensive. While there are alternatives available for ground travel there is no alternative for air travel or the kerosene that fuels air travel. The cost of flying is going to get increasingly expensive. It will become harder and harder to justify the expense.

The other factor is global warming and CO2 emissions. I learned in George Monbiot’s Heat that emitting co2 and water vapour high in the atmosphere amplifies the global warming affect by about 2.7 times.

The only short term missions trip I’ve been was to India. I was with a team of about 16 people. India is so far away from here that you could reasonably fly west or east to get there so it isn’t the best example of a short term missions trip but it isn’t an uncommon trip in my circles.

According to this C02 calculator our group’s share of the emissions was 44.8 tonnes of CO2. Multiply this by added global warming impact of the altitude and the water vapour we are looking at the equivalent of 120 tonnes. Even at 45 tonnes this trip is an ecological disaster. That is twice the CO2 emissions of an average family for a whole year.

The rationale for short term missions in the past was shaky at best and now the case against them grows stronger.


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Carol got a promotion!

Carol got a promotion!

Last summer Carol turned in to a superwoman!  She was in her third trimester working at the catering office of one Saskatoon’s better conference hotels.  In a very short amount of time a number of people were replaced and my dear wife was the only one left with any experience.  She worked really hard and managed to keep things together and help train new people under strenuous circumstances.  For her valiant effort the hotel made her the "champion of the month." 


The rewards didn’t stop there.  Now that we are headed towards the end of her maternity leave she has been offered a big promotion. I am so very proud of my wife.  She is really good at what she does.  She is dedicated, competent, loyal and smart.  I really love my wife and I think she is awesome. 

I remember talking to a friend about their wife.  He told me the more he knew her the more he liked her.  This is true for me as well.  When I was dating Carol I didn’t realize how wonderful she really is.  She loves God and she is contantly growing and learning and exploring.  I thank God for the blessing of living my life with Carol. 


Peak Oil is probably here

Peak Oil is probably here

You will have to forgive my recent run of pessimistic posts, but at least I’m on a different topic. A recent energy industry report concludes that conventional worldwide oil production is being outstripped by demand. They predict oil prices will soon hit $100 barrel.  "Conventional oil" doesn’t include things like biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel.  Nor does it include unconventional oil like the stuff we are pulling out of the tar sands.  Unfortunately it is unlikely that all these alternative sources of fuel will be able to make up the short fall.


As demand continues to outstrip supply the price of oil will continue to steadily climb.  So many things in our society are built assuming we have all this cheap energy we pull out of the ground.  In the next 10 years we will see some dramatic changes as we adjust to reality of finite non-renewable energy reserves.  Cities will begin to build up instead of out.  Less and less people will be able to live in a home by themselves.  We will see cities reverse core as more affluent people buy homes in the middle of the city and the value of suburban properties will drop.  We in North America will have to get used to higher prices for imported foods.  I imagine a lot more of us will be planting gardens.

There is really only one solution.  We have to drive more fuel efficient cars and drive them less.

Here is a short video on Peak Oil

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Do you know where this guy is?

Do you know where this guy is?

The North Pole!   Read about it.

Wouldn’t you say there is something wrong about this?

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Reflections on George Monbiot’s “Heat: How to stop the planet from burning”

Reflections on George Monbiot’s “Heat: How to stop the planet from burning”

If you want to read a thoroughly researched book on Global Warming and the steps we can take to avoid it Heat is it. 

Monbiot works with targets on the more stringent side of spectrum as he tries to remain optimistic about our ability to limit the amount of green house gases we release in to the atmosphere. 

The required cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are necessary to prevent certain other feedbacks in the climate system that will accelerate global warming.  If we aren’t able to limit the amount of CO2 and other pollution in the atmosphere the consequences are reminiscent of those found in the book of revelation:  Massive loss of sea life, failed forests, rivers drying up, intense heat, global conflict etc…

The solutions he purposes would require such a radical transformation of our society it is hard to believe any nation would have the stones to do it.  It isn’t that we couldn’t make the changes, we could.  It would require an operation larger than the global effort to defeat the Axis powers in WWII.    The changes required run smack against our individualism and materialism.  I’m betting most people don’t want to give up their cars for public transport and 90% of their air travel.

It seems nigh unto impossible with all the factors at play.

Most of the populace is too busy thinking about themselves and their next purchase
Certain elements of the oil industry have managed to confuse the issue
Our governments have the testicular fortitude of a neutered gnat.

As I weighed all this in my mind my emotional response has been something like Private Hudson in the movie Aliens.

“thats great, thats just &*%$ great man, now what the $%&* are we supposed to do, were in real pretty (*&% now man…that’s it man, its game over man, its game over, what the *&%$ are we going to do now?  what are we going to do?”

The immortal words of Bill Paxton haunt us as he asks the question of the hour.  What are we going to do?  Most of the people I’ve talked to remain in a vaguely sceptical form of comfortable inertia.  They aren’t convinced global warming is a problem nor have they studied the issue to the point of arriving at an informed opinion.  Some live in denial choosing to accept the soothing words of oil industry shills.  Some are clouded by the perception that this is a left wing issue put forward by left wing moonbats.  Yet some others grudgingly accept the reality of global warming but choose not to think about it.

I don’t normally directly appeal to the people that read this blog but you need to get informed on this issue.  If you are sceptical then read both sides and read the rebuttals on each point.  We can’t ignore this issue because the consequences of being wrong are horrible.  If the general public remains comfortably disengaged  on this issue we are screwed.

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Global Warming Swindle director gets eviscerated

Global Warming Swindle director gets eviscerated




Sicko and Canadian Health Care

Sicko and Canadian Health Care

Michael Moore’s latest documentary Sicko and it is already causing a stir. His latest is a damning indictment of the American health care system. I am normally repelled by Moore’s tactics even if he makes decent points now and again.

For all my American readers I’d like reflect on the Canadian system and Moore’s claims about it. I’ve been through two lung surgeries and observed close family members deal with bad knees, seizures and even brain surgery.

Is health care in Canada free for the end user?
Most of it is but not all. We pay out of pocket or have private insurance for dental and vision care, drugs, medical equipment and some miscellaneous things like massage therapy. There are no deductibles or co-pays for everything covered under medicare. You are not denied care because of pre-existing conditions.

Can an American cross the border and get health care?
No you need a health card. If you get a student visa and enrol in a university you do receive the same health care as other Canadians. Be careful though once you come you’ll want to stay…unless you have real issues with cold winters.

Is health care the same across Canada?
No. Each province is responsible for delivering health care so there are differences in each system. Health care is governed by the federal Canada Health act which ensures the delivery of a health care is publicly administered, comprehensive, universal, portable, and accessible. I’ve had experiences with hospitals in a handful of places. I prefer to stick to the larger hospitals in cities.

Can you choose your own doctor and hospital?
Yes. In places like my home city of Saskatoon the 3 major hospitals have areas of speciality, so you tend to take a sick child to the hospital with the paediatrics ward. In some areas of the country general practitioners are in short supply.

Are there really long waiting lines?
It depends on what you are waiting for. Urgent or life threatening conditions are treated quickly. If you need treatment for something that is not urgent but is complicated you could wait a long time to see your health problem resolved. I’ve seen people get referred to a specialist and that takes months, they order tests which take months and then you have to see the specialist again and that takes more months. This aspect of the system is maddening because some people end up suffering for months.

Is the result of these long waiting times because of under funding?
Yes and no. In 1995 the government got its fiscal house in order by slashing government spending. This caused a serious problem for the delivery of health care. All of that funding has been reinstated but the waiting times haven’t decreased to the point where they were before.

The problems in Canadian health care cannot be fixed with just more funding. Some reform is needed.

Do some people get so frustrated with the weaknesses of the Canadian system give up and pay for care in the United States?
I know of people who were frustrated with problems that weren’t being resolved in Canada. They paid out of pocket for what they thought was better treatment in the US. It is rare but it does happen. It is more common that people will pay out of pocket for diagnostic services like an MRI and bring the results back to the Canadian doctor.

Is the quality of care from doctors and hospitals better in the US?
The short answer is probably yes, although I couldn’t back up this assertion. Much like in the US some hospitals are better than others. Canada has world class doctors, specialists and facilities but not as many as the US.

Are Canadians happy with their health care? Would they want to switch to a US style system?
Canadians are generally happy. We have shed the idea that our system is the best in the world. However most Canadians wouldn’t want to go to an American style system. In Canadian society we think it would be inhumane to deny people medical care because their inability to pay. This idea deeply disturbs us. The care that most people receive most of the time is more than adequate.

Is Universal health care cheaper?
Yes. The cost of health care in Canada per-capita is $2500. The cost in the US is $4600.

Does Canada get more bang out of their health care buck?
Yes. We pay $2500 per person and we insure everyone. America pays $4600 and 1/6 of the country has no care at all. Life expectancy in Canada is ranked 13th in the world at 80.35 years. In the US it is 78 years, ranked 44th just behind Jordan, Puerto Rico and Bosnia! The World Health Organization ranks the Canadian system 30th and the American system at 37th. Neither country gets bragging rights on this one when both countries lag behind Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. To put it plainly America is paying for a Lexus and getting a Hyundai. Neither country gets what they pay for but Canada pays a lot less.

Is universal health care (a.k.a socialized medicine) going to corrupt the free market? Is it the first step towards communism?
Universal health care is a boon to most businesses as it removes a lot of hassle for employers who never have to deal with health plans for their employees. One of the great benefits of the system is its simplicity for everyone involved. There is much less bureaucracy in a system with few rules and a single payer.

Should the Americans adopt the Canadian system?
No. It is plain to see that the Canadian system has its problems. I’d look more towards Europe or Japan. The countries that consistently show the best outcomes are ones with a public and a private system. I don’t necessarily believe that Canada needs more private delivery of health care but we need to be honest about the failings of our own system. In America a blind allegiance to free market delivery of everything serves as a straight jacket in reforming their medical system. In Canada left-wing politicians and pundits are in an ideological straight jacket as well. Health care is a pawn in partisan politics and the losers are the people that need care.

Don’t you pay a lot more taxes in Canada?
We pay more taxes but not a lot more. According to OECD revenue statistics American taxes make up 29.6% of GDP whereas in Canada it is 35.8%. We pay about 20% more tax.